Oracle is hell-bent on upping its R&D spend to ensure its new integrated stack vision can be all things to all comers – a move that may cut out a large proportion of traditional services provider revenues.
Mark Hurd, president of Oracle, told a press briefing at the London Savoy that the firm – while committed to working with partners – wanted "every individual product to be the best". Furthermore, the best-of-breed offerings are being integrated together to create completely "engineered systems".
"Part of that strategy is that we will fit into a heterogeneous environment and we are working with customers' heterogeneous environments, and also with partners," he said. "Think of it as systems draped in software, tuned and optimised to create a better outcome."
Hurd said this was a crucial step in answering the conglomeration of business questions that customers of all sizes and in all locations are wrestling with – such as providing anywhere, anytime customer service in near-real time, competing in a globalised world, and increasing mobility and managing ever-expanding data volumes, while at the same time controlling or even reducing costs.
Currently, organisations are struggling to keep up with the pace of change and new demands put on them. Most, what's more, remain stuck with systems that are 17 to 18 years old, he said.
Therefore, Oracle is continuing to up its R&D spend, Hurd said, spending $5bn in the year ending June 2012, up from $4.5bn in the previous year, and $4.36bn in 2010 – with a view to to achieving solutions to these problems. Three processors are in development to be released in 2013, with two more generations already in the pipeline.
Compression of customer data is key to the Oracle vision, he said. The vendor can already, for example, shrink 1TB of data to 100GB, freeing up resources and reducing complexity.
"We are also offering a higher level of support. We are actually committing to SLA agreements of five minutes. Most customers when they call into a call centre for help can't get their name, address and configuration communicated in five minutes," said Hurd. "And our view is that data grew eight times between 2005 and 2012, and will expand 20 times between 2012 and 2020 – that will be more data than there will be SSDs to be able to host that data."
However, he hinted that one result might be a contraction of the IT services sector. If there's a move back to the use of an integrated stack by all sizes of business, the complexity of managing it would reduce and it will, therefore, be easier for organisations to manage it either themselves or by working with a single vendor.
IaaS would be a big part of the Oracle push, he noted, as well as SaaS – even via a subscription model. "People write that Oracle won't like SaaS because of the subscription model – that's just ridiculous," he said. "We are having tremendous success [with SaaS] in Europe."
Hurd was also keen to emphasise that Oracle was not forcing a return to a mainframe type world or one where the proprietary stack dominated. It would all be about customer choice, he insisted, and if customers continued to come to Oracle to ask for a server here or some storage there, the vendor would remain happy to fulfill those requirements.
That said, he underlined that the world was moving towards the cloud, which was likely to be the most simple approach of all from the end-user customer's perspective. "What do you think?" he said.
Resource and deal building
Hurd also would not rule out further acquisitions of other companies next year, although it depended very much on the specific circumstances. "We will continue to be opportunistic," he said.
One of its weaker areas in Europe in its latest quarterly call was public sector business, he agreed. However, Hurd said that Oracle will continue to be "very aggressive" in approaching government deals, including in the UK. "But I won't comment on any specific public sector opportunities."
Another possibility, Hurd indicated, was the construction of local datacentres in order to comply with regulatory strictures around export of data, such as in Europe. But he wouldn't be drawn on any definite plans.
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